By Brandon Welch, Program Director
Natural Capitalism Solutions is leading the way on innovative solutions to climate change that benefit everyone. One of our most successful projects is the Colorado Carbon Fund (CCF). With every donation and purchase of the stylish “Go Carbon Neutral” Colorado license plate, CCF invests in local carbon farming initiatives. These projects use soil as a medium to capture and retain carbon, preserve water, improve producer margins, and build community.
In 2018, the Colorado Carbon Fund grew 109% to more than double its 2017 donations, formed many new long-term partnerships, and positioned itself to grow with current and future market demands.
This growth is a result of the changing nature of carbon markets. At their inception, voluntary carbon markets grew exponentially. But their early promise crashed down in the late 2000s as renewable prices dropped and entities shifted their focus from paying others to mitigate emissions to doing it themselves.
Yet we need to focus on both reducing GHGs and removing them from the atmosphere. Focusing on one without the other will sink this ship. Some entities already powered by 100% renewables are looking for other ways to be environmentally conscientious. This is why carbon offsets are now coming back.
Large brands and governments do not just want offsets from projects that avoid emissions. They want to tell the story of actual removal of CO2 from the atmosphere. They also want transparency, great stories, clear metrics, reduced costs, and multi-stakeholder benefits extending into the project’s community.
CCF now focuses on funding agriculture projects that restore regenerative, healthy soils ranging from broad-acre pivot systems to boutique diverse vegetable farms with cattle and sheep. In conjunction with Mad Agriculture, CCF has four pilot farms adopting regenerative practices that will have their CO2 sequestration calculated. We also use blockchain technology to develop projects for a fraction of the typical offset cost. These projects enable CO residents to engage with local climate efforts. People in Boulder can go the farmer’s market and buy food that they know sequesters carbon into local soils. This means CCF will be one of the first to provide premium, soil carbon-capturing projects with the full suite of benefits that brands and municipalities are looking for.
Combining these projects with our revamped license plate program is exactly why we saw triple-digit growth for 2018. In 2008, the first CCF plate said “Advancing Clean Energy.” We recently chose a new slogan: “Go Carbon Neutral,” which is more interactive and future-looking. It’s meant to inspire anyone driving in CO to get involved. The launch of the new plate was a success. Several local newspapers wrote about the launch, which garnered massive interest from previous and new donors.
The CCF is trending in the right direction, setting ourselves up to continue making an impact throughout Colorado.
To learn more or get a license plate of your own, visit the Colorado Carbon Fund website.